Lightning to buy out Lecavalier's contract

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jun 27 2013 01:44:10 PM EDT

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will say goodbye to captain and all-time scoring leader Vincent Lecavalier.

The Lightning announced Thursday that they will buy out the remaining portion of the center's contract.

"Vinny has been a significant reason for many of our past successes, including the 2004 Stanley Cup, and his contributions to the community are immeasurable," Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. "The Lightning organization is indebted to Vinny; we thank him for all he has done here and we wish him well as he moves forward."

Lecavalier, 33, has seven years and $45 million left on his deal, with a reported annual value of $7.73 million. By using the buy-out, the club eliminates the contract's hit to their salary cap and must pay two-thirds of its existing value across twice the term of the contract -- or $24.67 million over 14 years.

Lecavalier's deal also includes an $8 million bonus that must be paid in full.

Lecavalier can sign with any team except Tampa Bay on July 5.

"After much internal deliberation, we believe this will prove to be a pivotal move for us as we strive to achieve our long term goal of competing at the highest level, year-in, year-out," Yzerman said. "The economics and structure of the CBA are necessitating this decision and we at the Lightning are excited at the newly created opportunities this presents to us."

Lecavalier was the first overall pick 1998 NHL Entry Draft, and played his entire career with the Lightning. He's the franchise's all-time leader in games played (1,037), goals (383), power-play goals (112) and game-winning goals (60). In his 14-year career seasons, he posted at least 20 goals in 12 straight years.

He led the league in scoring with 52 in 2006-07.

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